The Cleveland Browns started Friday just like any other day, but ended it with a new look to the offense.
The Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry to help their passing attack and breathe life into their last-place scoring offense. The addition of those pieces can lead to bigger things down the road.
In Taylor you have a capable dual threat at quarterback, who isn’t a stranger to QB1 status in favorable weeks. In Landry you have one of the best, if not flashy, receivers in the league. He led the NFL with 112 receptions and scored nine touchdowns last season with downright bad quarterback play.
Though Taylor passed for just 187 yards per game last season, he added 427 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. Outside of LeSean McCoy, he didn’t have a lot of help in terms of pass catchers. Taylor’s fantasy value could increase with the trade. He’s definitely an upgrade over DeShone Kizer at this point.
The addition of Taylor and Landry to the offense not only changes their own fantasy value, but it could drastically affect the skill players already on the Browns.
Josh Gordon looks serious about turning his career around and caught 18 passes in five games for 335 yards and a score to end last season. If he gets together with Taylor soon, they could develop enough chemistry to make a big impact next season. The 26-year-old has a decent amount of quality years left if he can stay on the straight and narrow.
Second-year tight end David Njoku could provide a nice outlet for Taylor. As a rookie, Njoku caught 32 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns. With Gordon and Landry on the outside, Njoku has potential for a breakout year.
A lot of NFL players took notice as news of the trades broke. You can’t help but wonder if top free agents took notice as well. Could Kirk Cousins actually start taking the Browns seriously now that they have some real receiving threats? Is Taylor just an insurance policy if Cleveland doesn’t land this season’s free agency big fish? Time will tell. With the new additions, free agency and five of the top 65 picks in the draft, it looks like the Browns might finally have their ducks in a row.
Halloween was a big day in the NFL with lots of fantasy football implications. You had last minute trades that went through, and one that didn’t. And you had a big suspension upheld. Kelvin Benjamin was sent to Buffalo, Jay Ajayi is now a member of the Eagles and Jimmy Garoppolo is now a 49er. Here’s a look at Tuesday’s winners and losers.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: The quarterback has been a solid streaming option all season and now he may end up catapulting into QB1 status with the addition of Kelvin Benjamin as a receiving option. The Bills needed help at the wideout position and they got it.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles: Being traded to the Eagles is probably the best thing that could have happened to the running back. He goes from a struggling offense to one that’s clicking, with a very good offensive line. I think he’ll have to be eased into the role as the lead back, with a tough matchup against the Broncos this week. But the sky is the limit for the newest Eagle.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: He gets Duane Brown from the Texans to help protect him. Wilson has been on fire recently and the added protection will just make him better.
Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers: Funchess will be the new No. 1 wideout in Carolina. Whether or not he makes the most of it is a question, but the opportunity is good.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: He’ll finally get his shot to start in the NFL. He won’t be a QB1, but he enters the conversation as a streaming option after this week of acclimation.
Pierre Garcon, WR, 49ers: Garcon is talented enough to give you decent production, but playing with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard hasn’t been good. Garoppolo joining the team gives Garcon hope to be a consistent WR2.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys: It’s starting to look like Elliott will have to serve out his six-game suspension after all as his appeal opportunities are running out. He’s definitely out this week, and it looks like the suspension will stick this time.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles: It’s obvious that Blount’s value takes a serious hit with the addition of Ajayi. He can still be a goal line option, but Ajayi can serve that role as well.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: He loses his best passing target and he was already having a hot and cold season. He’s down to Funchess as his best target at the wideout position.
Browns: They thought they got a quarterback with a future in A.J. McCarron from the Bengals. Turned out they were late filing the paper work and weren’t granted the trade. Ouch. Some might argue that they were better off not having the trade go through since they were giving up high draft picks. Given their history, I’m now expecting McCarron to become a hall of famer, however.
Wendell Smallwood, RB, Eagles: He might be relegated to an irrelevant role with the addition of Ajayi. Any backfield that has three viable options is not ideal. When two of them have resumes like Blount and Ajayi, it’s even worse for backs like Smallwood.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers: It’s somewhat a lateral move for Benjamin. He remains the top receiver with the team he’s with, but Taylor isn’t leaps and bounds better than Cam Newton.
The early fantasy football season continues to offer up surprises to go along with some depressing news for fantasy owners.
Here’s a look at Week 2’s notable developments.
If you thought Travis Benjamin, Stefon Diggs and Corey Coleman would be the top fantasy receivers in Week 2 then you deserve to be congratulated. Benjamin filled the void left by Keenan Allen, catching six passes for 115 yards and two scores for the Chargers. Diggs continued to solidify himself as the no. 1 receiver in Minnesota as he hauled in nine passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. The rookie Coleman caught five balls for 104 yards and two touchdowns for the Browns.
In addition to those somewhat surprising results, there were quite a few bounce-back performances in Week 2.
Dez Bryant caught seven passes for 102 yards to make up for a terrible start to the season. Brandon Marshall also eclipsed 100 yards receiving on Thursday night after a bad first week.
Though Cam Newton did fine in Week 1, his performance in Week 2 reminded us of how great he was last year. He threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns while adding 37 rushing yards.
Another quarterback who flashed some signs from last season was Tyrod Taylor, who had 297 yards passing, three touchdowns and 25 yards rushing.
There were a few surprising performances in the first week of the season, but Week 2 proved that a few of those players were no frauds.
Will Fuller continues to impress for the Texans as he’s the first first-round pick to have 100 yards receiving in each of his first two NFL games. Another rookie that continued to put up good numbers was the Giants’ Sterling Shepard who caught 8 passes on 8 targets for 117 yards.
On the running back front, doubters of Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray were shut up for the second week in a row. Forte scored three touchdowns and gained 100 yards on Thursday for the Jets while Murray gained 145 total yards for the Titans. Melvin Gordon paid off again as he rushed for 102 yards and scored a touchdown.
I was high on Derek Carr as the season started and he’s proving to be a top-8 quarterback so far this season. He had 299 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in Week 2.
Despite the continued success of some Week 1 heroes, Week 2 was a nightmare for a lot of fantasy owners. If you got through the weekend unscathed consider yourself lucky.
Seven fantasy running back starters were injured in Week 2. The biggest of them all was Adrian Peterson, who left the Sunday night contest with an apparent knee injury. He left the game having rushed for just 19 yards on 12 carries.
Another big blow came earlier in the day when Danny Woodhead was carted off the field in the Chargers game against the Jaguars in the first quarter. He’d already gained 27 yards on three carries as he was expected to play a bigger role in the passing game with top wideout Allen out for an extended period.
Thomas Rawls, Jonathan Stewart, Doug Martin, Ameer Abdullah and (big surprise) Arian Foster all went out with injuries on Sunday.
Here’s a look to the waiver wire for some help:
Dwayne Washington, Lions (4 touches-31 yards)
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings (3-1)
Charles Sims, Tampa Bay (12-28)
Fozzy Whittaker, Panthers (19-131)
Chris Johnson, Cardinals (16-54, TD)
Kenyon Drake, Dolphins (4-18, TD)
Sam Bradford, Vikings (286 yards, 2 TDs)
These next two weekends are the busiest in terms of fantasy drafts. It’s time to talk sleepers and lottery tickets.
Sleepers are those players that aren’t really on anyone’s radar, but can come through for you in the late rounds of your draft. Sleepers are all about finding that player who has the potential to significantly out-perform his draft position. You’re not drafting them to be your starters, but you can hope they’ll work their way into your lineup sooner rather than later.
Lottery tickets are players who, frankly, need the starter in front of them to go down with an injury or demotion in order to be productive.
Here’s a look at some of the potentially most productive sleepers and lottery tickets.
Kevin White, WR, Bears: He had high expectations before a stress fracture caused him to miss his entire rookie season. He’ll be Chicago’s No. 2 receiver behind Alshon Jeffery, who many fear might not hold up due to his soft tissue injury history. White’s been going around the eighth round in mock drafts, so he could be a WR3/WR4 that produces like a WR2 if things pan out.
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints: There are quality receivers in New Orleans, but Thomas could end up being worth a later-round pick if he continues to impress like he did in his first preseason game — four catches for 67 yards, though just one catch for five yards in his second game. He’s being drafted in the middle of the 10th round, so if he’s around at that point, you might as well snag him.
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: I’m opening myself up for ridicule with this one, but he totaled over 900 yards of offense and had nine touchdowns last season. He’ll be nobody’s first, second or even third option, but it looks like he finally started to find ways to contribute last year. The Rams will need to lean heavy on Todd Gurley and find ways to continue to get the ball into Austin’s hands in a variety of ways. Going typically in the 11th round, you can afford to take a flyer on this guy.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati: Another rookie that could end up contributing meaningful numbers. He’s had three catches for 78 yards and a touchdown so far this preseason. With little reason to believe in Brandon LaFell as a solid No. 2, Boyd could end up being A.J. Green’s lightly covered counterpart. He could be a steal in the 12th round.
Sammie Coates, WR, Steelers: He could end up filling the role vacated by Martavis Bryant, who’s suspended this season. Markus Wheaton has had ample opportunity to be the second option behind Antonio Brown, but has been passed up multiple times. Coates has been getting drafted around the 11th round, but you might even be able to get him in the 14th.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: With an ADP around the 10th round, he could be a nice insurance policy for whichever starter you pick before that. He accounted for 24 touchdowns and more than 3,500 yards last season while missing two games.
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: He’s been pretty consistent his entire career, gaining at least 700 yards every year after his rookie season. If you want to carry a second tight end, he could be had in later rounds. It could be one final solid season from the tight end and a healthy Tony Romo.
Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers: Even with Doug Martin’s resurgent season, Sims had more than 1,000 yards of total offense. He’s getting drafted early in the ninth round and could be a nice flex player even with Martin as the lead back.
Tim Hightower, RB, Saints: He was one of the best running backs at the end of last year, gaining 456 total yards and scoring four touchdowns in the final four games. A pick in the 14th round could end up winning you the lottery.
Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks: Thomas Rawls was impressive last season, but 583 of his 803 rushing yards came in just four games. Michael has looked good in the preseason and might just need an opportunity. He’s going in the 10th round, but might be around in the 12th.
DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders: Latavius Murray should be used heavily in Oakland, but Washington has shown flashes in the preseason. He could carve out a nice role for himself, but if Murray goes down, then he could really shine. His ADP is in the 11th, so it shouldn’t be too tough landing this potential lottery ticket.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: It was odd that Atlanta drafted him a year after taking Devonta Freeman. Freeman then went on to have a great year. I’m not sold on Freeman duplicating his early success last season. He rushed for more than 80 yards just twice in the final eight games. He scored just four touchdowns in that span. Coleman should be available in the middle of the ninth round.